|My Taste In Music in 100 Albums|
So about 2 weeks ago (maybe less) I reached the milestone of 20,000 comments on this site, after 4 and a half years of posting. I thought about doing something similar to what user Artuma did after reaching 10k but decided it would be too difficult and time consuming. So instead here is a list that I feel best represents my taste in music as of right now. This is in no way a list of my 100 favourite albums, rather a combination of some all time favourites, current digs, albums/artists that have had some sort of influence on my taste and albums/artists that I simply wanted to include and/or say something about. it might seem strange to include several artists more than once but I wanted this to be a fair reflection of my current music listening, so listing some of my most listened to artists multiple times made sense. As far as the descriptions are concerned, I didn't want to do a load of review-style soundoffs as I thought it would be better (and again, less time consuming) to make the descriptions more relaxed and personal. Lastly I've enjoyed my time on this site so far and I'm sure I will continue to be part of this community for the foreseeable future, although perhaps less frequently as time goes on and I may be more inclined to use my free time to concentrate more on reviewing than commenting. Oh and one more thing, a shout out to every user I have conversed with regularly, I love you all.
Seemed logical to start this list with some of my all time favourites and this album is a strong contender for my favourite album of all time. Not really a prog album at all, this is almost all folk(-rock), save for 1 or 2 tracks, and was one of the albums that really got me into folk music. For me the song writing on this album confirms Anderson's status as one of the greatest lyricists ever, putting him up there with Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.
Blood on the Tracks
Easily Bob Dylan's most consistent album and definitely his most emotional, Blood on the Tracks is the very pinnacle of singer/songwriter folk, which has possibly become my favourite genre.
Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Psychedelic rock, both old and new, makes up a huge chunk of my music listening and if I was to pick an all time favourite from the genre it would be this without a doubt. This album has everything I look for in a psychedelic rock album and is about as close to perfection as an album can get.
Then Play On
For me the original Peter Green-fronted Fleetwood Mac will always be the real Fleetwood Mac. No other guitarist could match Green in his prime when it comes to conveying emotion through guitar playing. Although many of his best songs can be found elsewhere (as many were released as non-album singles), this album stands as the best album Green ever played on and is one of the greatest blues rock albums ever recorded.
Thick as a Brick
One thing that separates Tull from all other prog bands (and the reason that they are by far my favourite) is Anderson's focus on song writing. Even on their most musically adventurous albums the song writing always comes first, which led to the creation of the ultimate concept album, one that stands as a lyrical benchmark in prog which no other band/artist within the genre has managed to reach.
This album had a huge impact on my music taste as it was one of the albums that got me into prog. It still remains one of my favourite prog albums (and one of my favourites in general) and for me is without a doubt Floyd's best album.
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
This took some time grow on me but once it hit me it wasn't long until it became a prog favourite. The emotional impact of the album along with it's remarkable consistency (especially for a double album) puts it ahead of other Genesis albums for me, as does the quality of song writing and the more refined yet still exceptional musicianship.
A I A
What a wonderful woman Liz Harris is, the Alien Observer half of this compilations is one of the most hauntingly beautiful albums I've ever heard. Ambient has become one of my most listened to genres over the last couple of years and this might be my absolute favourite in the genre.
My Arms, Your Hearse
Apparently it's become "elite" to consider this as the best Opeth album, not sure what to make of that but anyway this has been my favourite Opeth for many years and stands out as by far their most well-crafted and consistently interesting album.
Victims of Deception
Thrash is probably my favourite metal sub-genre but I've gotta say if any genre has one album that shits on all of its competition then it's thrash and that album is Victims of Deception.
I much prefer Ulver's more recent, electronic-based material to their black metal stuff, largely because I've never really been much of black metal fan. At the moment I'd say this would have to be my favourite Ulver, although Shadows of the Sun and last year's Messe I.X?VI.X aren't too far behind.
|12||Boards of Canada|
Best BoC and possibly my favourite electronica album. Gets better with every listen.
A near perfect singer-songwriter folk album. One of the main reasons why Pink Moon works better than his previous two albums is due to its more stripped back approach, making it that bit more intimate.
Songs of Love and Hate
Undoubtedly one of the all time great lyricists, standing along side Dylan and Anderson as one of the 3 in that group I like to call "the only lyricists that really matter".
Blonde on Blonde
My favourite of Dylan's classic trio of albums released between '65 and '66. Whilst perhaps not his most consistently amazing album lyrically, it does have some of his most interesting writing.
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Simply the best. My love for jazz has grown considerably over recent years, after a long time of listening to mostly fusion stuff I've gone on to appreciate "real" jazz even more.
Still Got the Blues
This album was partly responsible for getting me into blues and remains one of my all time favourites in the genre. Gary Moore has everything I look for in a guitarist, his playing just oozes emotion and his tone is as distinctive as any of the guitarists who influenced him.
Made in Japan
Best live album ever.
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Recently came to the conclusion that this is my favourite Sabbath.
During their early years Genesis were equally over the top and grandiose in style as bands such as Yes and ELP although they somehow managed to maintain a level of emotion in their song-writing that kept them from straying into the realms of pomp. For this reason, to me, albums such as this seem to have more depth than a lot of other prog of a similarly grand and symphonic style.
Everyone talks about Seamus as bringing this album down but that song's never been a problem for me, it's positioned perfectly on the album and doesn't disrupt its flow or atmosphere at all. San Tropez on the other hand affects both of those things and is the one song stopping this from reaching the same levels of perfection as Animals and Wish You Were Here, although I think this has started to overtake the latter as my second favourite Floyd despite not being as well-rounded.
It's very difficult to put my love for this album into words. Diamond Dust's ambient soundscapes are so otherworldly they almost defy description. It's a shame that the Venn Rain project is coming to an end as it has produced some my favourite ambient music.
First heard this when I was only just starting to get into ambient music and it remains one of my favourites in the genre, as does Witxes as an artist. A Fabric of Beliefs might actually be even better although I have a stronger emotional connection to this.
Some of the most evocative ambient I've ever heard. The mental imagery that this album evokes really made me think about the correlation between audio and visual representation. The intensity of the different moods and atmospheres conveyed by each of the album's three pieces is what makes this one of my favourite ambient releases.
The Sea Swells a Bit...
Hypnotic in its repetition, this is an example of where repetition isn't a bad thing.
A Season in Your Soul
This is probably my favourite Hecker at the moment, although I'm not as familiar with his earlier material as I should be considering how much of a huge ambient fan I am.
Benoit has become one of my most loved artists of recent years, his mix of singer-songwriter (indie) folk and ambient/field recordings works brilliantly. Particularly evident on this album is his talent as a song writer.
Bringing It All Back Home
As much as I like Dylan's electric material, it's the acoustic based songs that really stand out on this album. In fact Dylan has always been at his best as a folk musician, not that his decision to "go electric" was anything close to a failure as it was during this period he released some of his very best albums.
Flat Baroque and Berserk
Roy Harper is one of the more underrated folk songwriters of the 60's and 70's, although he does receive plenty of praise form those who are familiar with him to a greater extent than knowing him as that guy who sung on that Pink Floyd song once. For me Flat Barogue and Berserk is perhaps the best representation of Harper as song writer displaying his scathing and sometimes controversial social commentary with I Hate the White Man and also his more simplistic and intimate song writing with songs such as Another Day.
Minstrel in the Gallery
Hearing this album was what effectively led to Tull becoming my favourite "prog" band. It was the album that made me realise that there was so much more to Tull than just Aqualung and Thick as a Brick which at the time were the only Tull albums I was familiar with.
Houses of the Holy
Fast becoming my favourite Zep, this album has a unique atmosphere unlike any other album in their discography. It features two of their most outstanding and original songs in the form of The Rain Song and No Quarter, the former being one of the rare occasions where Page's guitar playing actually makes me "feel" something.
Born Under a Bad Sign
One of the all time great blues players, I'd put Albert King slightly ahead of his namesake B.B. Everything I love about Albert's guitar playing is summed up with the opening lick of closing track The Very Thought of You.
A Hard Road
The album that introduced Peter Green to the world. Not just the best guitarist to emerge from British blues scene of the mid-late 60's but also one of the greatest blues guitarists ever, even inspiring B.B. King to say "he has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats". Green would have to be my #1 favourite guitarist and its his presence that for me makes this superior to Mayall's Blues Breakers album with Eric Clapton that came one year earlier.
The Green-fronted incarnation of Fleetwood Mac only ever released three studio albums (despite the wealth of other material available on various compilations) and it's a shame that the second of those three albums is so inconsistent. The album features some excellent moments in the form of Green's songs but is let down massively by Jeremy Spencer's painfully average performance. For me Spencer was always the one thing holding the original Fleetwood Mac back.
Songs of Leonard Cohen
Poetry in the form of song, the album that saw Cohen take the small step from a poet to a songwriter. It's artists like Cohen, where the line between the two is blurred (not always as literally as in this case), that have become my favourite lyricists.
An incredibly intimate album. Songs such as A Case of You prove Mitchell to be an exceptional lyricist not too far behind many of her male contemporaries, although, for me, still a step below Bob Dylan who Joni herself has aimed a few rather controversial comments towards.
Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
This album's ambient folk is every bit as ethereal as the spacious ambience of Alien Observer. Personally I lean more towards the latter but both albums are exceptional.
Lovely ambient/modern classical~
Out to Lunch
One of my favourite jazz albums. Possibly only topped by Mingus' Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.
Another jazz favourite. Features Larry Coryell who is one of my favourite jazz guitarists.
|42||Peter Evans Quintet|
Good modern avant-garde jazz.
Cobham is easily one of my top 3 drummers, along with Barriemore Barlow and Bill Bruford, but while Cobham's drumming is fantastic as always on this album, Tommy Bolin's guitar performance is even more outstanding and almost steals the show completely at times. I'm not usually overly impressed by super technical guitar playing but Bolin's solo in Quadrant 4 completely flawed me the first time I heard it.
Sad Wings of Destiny
I find most of Priest's 80's stuff and beyond (including Painkiller) very overrated but 70's Priest is some of the best heavy metal out there. Sad Wings is a classic of the genre and easily Priest's best album with only Stained Class coming remotely close.
Lightning to the Nations
I'm not really that big a death metal fan and most of the death metal I do enjoy is of the rawer thrashy variety (see below). This album though is a classic of the genre. Best Death album and best death metal album.
Abominations of Desolation
My kind of death metal.
Into the Abyss
Early death-thrash of the highest quality.
I've got a lot of love for early Sepultura, this and Schizophrenia are some of my favourite death-thrash albums (this leaning closer to the death metal side of things).
Brazilian thrash is some of my favourite metal and Mutilator, along with early Sepultura, embodies everything I love about the scene. Raw, primitive and full of passion.
Death Angel's output between 1987 and 1990 is some of my favourite thrash. The average age of the band when they made this album is astonishing given the quality of the musicianship. Their more recent material is rather less inspired, although some of the albums they've released since their re-formation are better than a lot of modern thrash albums out there but that's not really saying much.
My love for hair metal is somewhat of an anomaly in my music taste. I dig the whole exaggerated "sex, drugs and rock and roll" vibe and the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Sometimes I just want music that's fun and/or that simply rocks and the good hair metal (there's certainly some rubbish out there too) hits the spot. And this album hits the spot harder than most.
The Best of Warrant
One thing separates Warrant from a lot of other hair metal bands, especially the ones that emerged towards the end of the 80's, and that's the quality of song writing. Not in a lyrical sense but in terms of poppy hooks and infectious choruses. Warrant were at the top of the pile in that regard. It's just a shame that they'll be remembered by many for the intentionally poorly written Cherry Pie.
|54||The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound|
When Sweet Sleep Returned
These days I find myself listening to just as much (if not more) modern psych as classic psych and this album in particular is in constant rotation, especially during the summer. Top tier neo-psychedelia.
Lo-fi fuzzy psychedelic jams. Really like this band's last album, Water on Mars, as well despite it being much more alt-rock orientated.
|56||The 13th Floor Elevators|
One of the best classic psych records out there. Slip Inside this House and Dust are both sensational pieces of 60's psychedelia, particularly in terms of song writing. Speaking of brilliant song writing, this album's cover of Bob Dylan's It's All Over Now Baby Blue, ranks among my favourite cover versions ever.
Out of Uranus
A largely overlooked psych rock gem. One of many relatively obscure albums that proves that 60's/70's psychedelic rock has plenty to offer outside the most popular/well-known bands in the genre, much more so than prog.
|58||The Grateful Dead|
Anthem of the Sun
I much prefer the Dead's 60's psychedelic material to their later more folk and country flavoured albums. Their first three albums are by far my favourite studio albums of theirs, this being the best of the lot.
|59||Amon Duul II|
Krautrock classic. The "krautrock" scene of the late 60's - 70's produced a lot excellent experimental and psychedelic music, Amon Duul II being my (rather predictable) pick of the bunch.
|60||Les Rallizes Denudes|
The definitive noise rock album.
Nobody does noisy psych as good as the Japanese.
One of my favourite heavy psych bands to emerge in the last few years.
More exciting and adventurous than their more recent albums. Although I still love 'D' too.
Beard, Wives, Denim
Marginally prefer these guys to Tame Impala (technically a Pond side-project). Loved the more experimental approach of Hobo Rocket but I think overall this is still my favourite.
|65||The Olivia Tremor Control|
Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume 1
This took a long while to grow on me but now it's some of my favourite neo-psychdelia, even though the overlong experimentation of The Bark and Below It still seems pointless to me when the brief moments of sound-collage and field recordings between the main songs work so much better.
From Here We Go Sublime
Minimal/ambient techno is a style I've been exploring recently and this has been one of the most enjoyable listens yet.
Not really that big on Autechre but I like this album a lot. Much "smoother" and more melodic than most of their other stuff.
One of Benoit's best, although all 4 of his albums from Precis up to last year's Hymnal have been excellent.
Can't get enough of this. This woman is a goddess.
|70||Have A Nice Life|
The Unnatural World
Still very much in contention to be my 2014 AOTY. [Insert ">>>Deathconsciousness" comment here]
Don't care for much modern death metal but this is great. Probably the only death metal album released in recent years that I really enjoy.
The Glow Pt. 2
It's a close call between this and Lost Wisdom (Mount Eerie) for my favourite Elverum album. Phil has a unique song writing style that I have to be in a certain mood to enjoy but when I am, wow.
Overall this would have to be my favourite Elliott album. It's certainly one of his most intensely emotional. Smith is a great song writer but I can't help but chuckle a little when I hear him proclaimed as one of the all time great lyricists.
The Final Cut
Perhaps the most polarizing album in Floyd's discography, The Final Cut is regarded as one of the band's weaker albums by many but adored by others, many of whom would rate the album higher than it's predecessor (myself included). The contrast between this album and The Wall is summed up by two lines in the title track: "Thought I oughta bare my naked feelings / Though I oughta tear the curtain down". That's exactly what Waters did with this album, stepping out from behind the metaphorical curtain that was The Wall's fictional concept.
For hardcore Opeth fans this is generally seen as a weak point in their discog but for me this was a refreshing and long overdue change in approach. Their most interesting album since My Arms, Your Hearse and also a much better and more authentic take on classic prog than most "revival" prog bands have managed. On top of that Axenrot's performance on this album is some of my favourite drumming ever.
One of the only modern prog bands I really enjoy. They're hardly original but at least they have their own distinct sound and don't fall into that awful alt-prog category.
This is where it's really at though. On a side note, unlike a lot of other genres I find that most of the best classic prog is by the big, well-known prog bands. Almost all the "obscure" 70's prog bands I've heard lack the character of the more famous prog acts and could never come close to making an album as good as this
Shine on Brightly
First real prog album? Possibly. Either way it's one of the very best early prog albums.
Voyage of the Acolyte
Best prog guitarist? Definitely.
In the Wake of Poseidon
It's strange that upon its release this was regarded as a considerable improvement over their debut but is now much maligned for sounding too similar to it's predecessor and considered inferior by a large portion of prog fans. For me this is every bit as good as their debut and even improves on it in some areas such as its improv track, The Devil's Triangle, which is far superior than the noodling nonsense that makes up the majority of Moonchild.
A Passion Play
One of the weirdest and most adventurous prog albums I've ever heard and by far Tull's most (or perhaps their only) typically "prog rock"-sounding release, for once sounding like prog in style as much as being progressive in nature. Once again though, Anderson's song writing manages to separate it from other over the top prog releases with the complex and elaborate musicianship playing second fiddle to the albums' concept and Anderson's charismatic delivery of his fascinating lyrics.
My favourite neo/dark-folk album, Forlatt is some of the most emotive music the genre has to offer. One of my go-to albums for winter.
For Winter Fire
Speaking of winter...
Ashes Against the Grain
Only Agalloch album I've really gotten into. Closing track The Grain seems to get a lot of hate but I find it to be a fine way of ending the album and the Our Fortress is Burning suite.
Soon it Will Be Cold Enough
My knowledge of "trip-hop" is a bit lacking but this rules.
Lost in the Glare
Psychedelic drone; music to get lost in.
|87||The Psychic Paramount|
Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural
More noisy psych. Love it.
|88||Six Organs of Admittance|
Went through a stage not so long ago where I got really into this kind of experimental psychedelic folk.
Lo-fi psychedelic folk that brings the gypsy swag.
Perfect when in the mood for psychedelic folk of a poppier variety.
Infectious psychedelic indie/power pop.
Great summer jam. Like their new one too but prefer this.
Don't Say You Know
A recent obsession.
|94||Carbon Based Lifeforms|
Don't care for much "psybient" but dig this a lot.
Beautiful noisy drone/ambient. This and Love is a Stream are wonderful.
Life on Earth
A very bleak and sombre contemporary folk album. Have to be in a certain mood for this.
The Event of Your Leaving
One of my favourite albums of last year. Brilliant collaboration between two favourite artists. A fascinating audio interpretation of the artwork of Vija Celmins.
Up the Downstair
I'm hardly a big Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson fan, in fact I strongly dislike much of Wilson's music, but I have soft spot for Porcupine Tree's early psychedelic material before the band became more focussed on Wilson's song writing and moved towards that alt-prog style I dislike so much. This, along with The Sky Moves Sideways and the Staircase Infinites EP represents pretty much the only Porcupine Tree material I like, but I like it quite a lot. Including this on here because lets face it, no Porcupine Tree album was ever going to make my top 100 if I'd done one.
Back to the genre that this list started with. This album took quite some time to grow on me. It's rather inconsistent but the standout tracks are some of Dylan's finest, Black Diamond Bay being a personal highlight. Many of the album's lyrics were co-written by Jacques Levy, a strange move from Dylan but one that pays off on a couple of tracks.
Thought it'd be fitting to end the list with an[other] album by an artist I've been listening to a lot as of late. Stormcock was Harper's first real flirtation with progressive music and although still a folk album at its core it was much more epic in style. While I still love this, I personally prefer the style of his previous album and feel that there are times on here where the lyrics are a bit too flowery and almost seem slightly forced. The album's closing track however, the fantastic Me and My Woman, suffers no such problems and is one of his greatest ever songs.